It’s not by accident that Heather Trost has named this second full-length after the term for the aroma produced by dry soil after sustained rainfall. The record itself is similarly evocative; leaving behind the Balkan-influenced folk she makes as one half of Neutral Milk Hotel offshoots A Hawk and a Hacksaw, she’s instead carved out her own psychedelic niche with ‘Petrichor’, a hazy seven-track pop album entirely in her own image. Opener ‘Let It In’ sets the tone; distorted vocals float over the top of undulating beds of synth, as she forcefully makes the case for living in the present (“feel joy now, find the time to watch the sunrise over the mountain… a precipice may open up anytime, separating us from life once again”).
With the album recorded in its entirety over the course of the last two calendar years before this one, there’s no way Trost could have known what 2020 would bring, and that somehow lends ‘Petrichor’ an additional emotional weight, one that runs through its every stylistic turn; it’s there in the eerie, Twin Peaksy doo-wop of ‘I’ll Think of You’, and it’s palpable, too, in the epic, spacey electronic sweep of the record’s standout, ‘VKO9’. Worthy of note, also, is a panoramic take on Harry Nilsson’s ‘Jump Into the Fire’ that recalls The Velvet Underground; that Heather chose it as the lead single is proof positive that ‘Petrichor’ is a passion project, all about indulging the kinds of whims that don’t fit the Hawk and a Hacksaw mould. On that front, she’s succeeded.